Sunday, April 26, 2015
Tags Posts tagged with "Matt Kalil"

Matt Kalil

I don’t know how many times I have typed this sentence, but here it goes one more time:  The Vikings always seem to be behind the rest of the league when it comes to signing their own free agents and their own draft classes.

I’ve also said before that we have no reason to worry about any holdouts now that the rookie wage scale is in place.

On one hand, it might appear as there is no reason to worry because the Vikings reportedly agreed to terms today with third round cornerback (and fastest man at the Combine) Josh Robinson.  The deal, as usual, is for four years.

On the other hand, however, there is a growing sense that the Vikings are taking a firm stance on the issue of “offset language” in these rookie contracts so Matt Kalil’s contract remains to be finalized with training camp beginning tomorrow.

The offset clause being referenced has to do with how the contract is handled should the player be cut prior to the contract expiring and then have the player sign with another team.  The Vikings want the contract to be worded in such a way that any money they still owe the player is offset by the new contract awarded.    The players, of course, would rather see themselves in a situation where they are being paid by two teams for a year or two in the event that they are cut by the team that drafted them.

Rick Spielman has indicated that he is confident that Kalil’s deal will be done without any major hiccups. 

Here is hoping he is correct.

I’ve said it a number of times before, and I’ll gladly say it again:  I am looking forward to this season more than any in recent history.

I can’t wait to watch the Vikings (hopefully) begin to take strides towards a rebuild and (hopefully) grow and develop into what will (hopefully) become a true Super Bowl contender in the somewhat near future.

All of that begins in Mankato on Thursday, and here are the five things I will be keeping the closest eye on when the offense takes their training camp reps.

5.  Adrian Peterson’s Health

I’ll be honest, I still haven’t figured out any upside to rushing Peterson back into action for a season that is likely to end with the Vikings looking at the playoffs from the outside.  Still, the Vikings invested an astronomical amount of money into their superstar running back, and seeing the same old Adrian at some point this season would please many fans.

So, in training camp, it is natural that a number of stories will be written about Peterson’s participation or lack thereof.  Don’t get your hopes up too high, however, as Toby Gerhart is likely to carry the load while his young backups gain some experience with the twos and threes.

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As Vikings minicamp gets underway, the team’s offensive line is expected to have a new look and improved production.

One position that is not expected to see turnover at the starting spot is right tackle, manned by Phil Loadholt who is in a contract year.  Leslie Frazier complimented Loadholts pass and run blocking abilities, but said that he needed to be more consistent.

Loadholt didn’t seem to mind Frazier’s public assessment and admitted that Frazier was exactly right.

“He hit it right on the head,” Loadholt said. “It’s something I am going to work on. In this league, anytime you do anything wrong with technique you can look bad. So I will continue to work on my technique and get all those things right.”

If Matt Kalil can improve the left tackle position and Loadholt does indeed progress his play, Christian Ponder and company could indeed be in for a fun season.

If not, well…

… It is June, I don’t want to think about that.

Third round cornerback Josh Robinson and first round left tackle Matt Kalil are now the only members of the Vikings 2012 Draft class not under contract.

Jeremy Fowler of the Pioneer Press reports that first round selection Harrison Smith, a safety out of Notre Dame, agreed to a four year deal on Thursday.  There is no indication as to whether or not a fifth year option is in the deal, as no details have yet to be released.

Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there is no reason to believe that Kalil (or any other rookie) could potentially be a training camp holdout.  All contracts are likely to be finalized in a relatively short period of time.

Most of us would be a little taken aback if one day our boss came through the office and introduced a new employee… who would be taking your job, while you moved to another.

In the case of Charlie Johnson, it shouldn’t have come as too big of a surprise when the Vikings used their first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft on USC left tackle Matt Kalil, but offensive line coach Jeff Davidson wasn’t going to treat Johnson, or the situation, like it was no big thing.

Davidson immediately set up a meeting between Kalil and Johnson to try and make sure everybody knew exactly where they stood after it became apparent that Johnson would be moving to left guard.

“I just saw (Johnson) and explained to him, ‘You two guys are going to be best friends,'” said Davidson of the meeting. “And I introduced Charlie to his family, Matt’s family, as well. They all know who he is. I said, ‘There isn’t going to be any bad blood.’ And Charlie said, ‘I just want to win games.’ He does not care where he plays this game. He just wants to help us win. That’s the type of guy he is.”

“It wasn’t anything like, ‘Aw, man. Here it goes,'” said Johnson, explaining his feelings after the Vikings selected Kalil. “It was more of an ‘Alright, let’s go. Let’s get to work.’ I came up here the next day and he was up here eating lunch and talking. And I sat down and talked with him for a minute and it was on from there. So it was no big deal.

“There is no animosity,” Johnson continued.  “Look, I’m going to play. I feel that I’m one of the best five guys we have on our offensive line room. So I’m going to play. To me it doesn’t matter where it’s at.”

According to Davidson, it only took until week three of the 2011 season to figure out that Johnson might be better suited at the guard position, and he was more than willing to share that with Johnson.

“This was something that’s kind of been ongoing,” Davidson said. “I’m going to try and put it as nice as I can. I’m a no-nonsense guy. And essentially when I think that I see a guy and I know what he is capable of and what he would help us most at, I’m going to let him know that. Our postseason interviews that we had when I talked to Charlie, I said, ‘You may be our left tackle. You may be our left guard. I don’t know yet. We’re going to be better at two positions if we get a left tackle in here.”

“He is a good athlete so he was able to survive — the term I might use — at left tackle,” Davidson said of Johnson. “The fact that he has an opportunity to be able to use his athleticism as a puller, the smarts to be able to help our new left tackle, and transfer information from our center to that, he’s going to help fill the bill at guard. He can play any position on the line if we asked him to, in all honesty. I just think if we had to pick one for him it’s the offensive guard position. So this helps us in a lot of ways.”

Everyone is sure making it sound like the starting job at left guard is Johnson’s to lose, despite a hefty quantity of intriguing interior linemen ready to battle for employment during training camp.  If Johnson manages to thrive in his new role with the Vikings, he could finally be looking at long term certainty for his career, and the Vikings could finally be looking at long term certainty along their offensive line.

Matt Kalil will likely sign a four year deal with a fifth year option within the next few weeks, which will cement him as the franchise’s left tackle.  Center John Sullivan signed an extension in December that will keep him employed through the 2016 season.  Johnson, if he sticks as a left guard, has two seasons remaining on his contract.

Perhaps we can look forward to once again having a dominant left side of our line?

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